Working homeschooled kids

Oldest expressed interest in getting a job.

Hallelujah! 🙂

Since he is a minor, all sorts of child labor laws come into play. I found this summary of Texas and Federal law at the Texas Workforce Commission’s website.

Here’s one part that I’m not sure about:

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) a child 14 or 15 years of age may not work during school hours…

We homeschool. In Texas, the legal status of homeschool is a private school. So, what does “school hours” mean? My guess is the normal hours of operation for the public school system in the district in which we reside (I sent an email to HSLDA). But why must it be this way? One of the benefits of homeschooling is flexible scheduling. It allows us to better organize our family life. It can give an employer a work resource at a time when they might need the help (e.g. lunch rush), instead of only getting a glut of teenager help from 3-7 PM every day. Furthermore, that glut limits the number of teenage employees that can be had as there’s only so much work and wages to go around at that time of day.

I understand the intent of child labor laws, including the history of how they came about. The intentions are good. It is evident the laws are constructed around traditional notions of institutionalized schooling. Given the dramatic rise of homeschooling in the past some years, it makes sense to revise and modernize our laws to improve how homeschooling is legally regarded (e.g. HoNDA).

Updated: Well, maybe this will work out, at least here in Texas.

HSLDA sent me a summary of Texas child labor laws.

Q: Can a child work during public school hours?

A: Texas has no prohibition against a child working during public school hours.

I requested clarification regarding how Federal law would work in here. Since the Federal law does not specify what “during school hours” means, Texas law trumps in this case.

So it seems if Oldest was to be hired, he could work the lunch rush. So long as of course things didn’t conflict with his schooling, which we wouldn’t allow anyway.

Nevertheless, I could see employers not wanting to hire in such a situation. First, they may be unaware of the laws. In that case, best I can say is for Oldest to walk into the job application process prepared with paperwork showing the laws and legal take on things, because I’m sure an employer would contact the TWC but they may also be unaware. Second, an employer may just want to avoid the potential appearance of the situation. To see a child working mid-day will be strange to a lot of people, which could prompt phone calls to CPS or TWC, and an employer may just not want to deal with the hassle…. or it could count against Oldest in some way.

We’ll see how it all plays out.

2 thoughts on “Working homeschooled kids

  1. How did this work out for you? N wants to work so badly and has even come up with a list of things that she could learn from early entry into the workforce. The legal web sites are so vague on early teen requirements. Could you share a bit about your experience?

    • Wow. This is something I wrote over 8 years ago – so you’re asking me to remember back that far. 🙂

      Here’s what I can say.

      If your child is that gung ho to work, find a way to make it work. Work for you, for the child, for the family, for all the goals you have for schooling and teaching and helping them to become contributing and good citizens. Whatever that might be.

      When it comes to “legal web sites”, if they are being vague I wonder are these websites just some of the crap websites out there that rehash stuff merely to get web traffic? You should go to actual sources, like actually looking up the laws in your area. Or like I did, being a member of HSLDA — given they’re about homeschooling and legal resources — and asking them for input. Even if they can’t give you the specific answer, hopefully they can point you in the right direction. Also, you could try contacting your state/county/city labor entity. For example, here in Texas it would be the Texas Workforce Commission.

      Or better yet: this is homeschooling! Make this a research project. If child wants to work so badly but there’s potential legal stickiness, have child research the laws and find out what’s what. 🙂

      In the end for us, our kids have been doing a lot of self-employed entrepreneurial work, or contract work (1099 type stuff) for folks – but they’re all older now. Which in itself has been enlightening, especially when they have to file income taxes. 🙂

      I hope this was some help.

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